I’m usually a pretty easy going person. At least I try to be. And I try to have a positive outlook on things as much as possible. Although, like I wrote here, I can get caught up in negative attitudes from time to time if I don’t watch myself. So, I try to look for things to be thankful for. I have so much. A loving wife, good friends, family, a church family, and most importantly, a loving God full of grace.
There are a few things in this world, however, that can instantly cause me to react negatively when I see them happen; children being abused, senseless acts of terrorism, people being taken advantage of, human trafficking; the list could go on. But something that may seem small caught me off guard this week. It made me realize that I cannot stand being lied to, or seeing a lie be told about something that I am a part of.
Actually, someone lying to me about something isn’t as big of a deal as someone lying about something that I am a part of and am passionate about. I found out this week that someone blatantly lied about some circumstances that I was involved in within the past couple of years. I know the truth about what happened, and have some suspicions about some of the other details. But what I found out this week was no where near the truth.
I will not go into detail about what happened. That’s not important. Plus, I haven’t talked to the person involved, so it would not be right to put the detail out here. But what I want to write about is integrity. We have to have integrity, especially if we are going to claim to be Christ followers. Speaking in truth is a big part of honesty. Whether the truth is harsh or not, lying is worse in the long run. And in the case that prompted this, the truth would not have been that bad. Like I said, I pretty much knew what really happened when the situation originally took place.
Jesus spoke to the issue of telling the truth. In fact, it is included in what He calls the two most important commandments. Matthew 22:37-40 read;
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
I know the words “tell the truth”, or “don’t lie” are not included here, but the idea is there none the less. These two commands that Jesus tells us are the two most important commands basically sum up the Ten Commandments. Love God and love others is what the Ten Commandments are really made up of. And one of the Ten Commandments is basically about lying. Exodus 20:16 reads;
16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
So, it’s right there in the Ten Commandments. But Jesus speaks on this issue more than just here. He speaks even more directly to this issue in what we call the “Sermon on the Mount”. In Matthew 5:33-37, he speaks on the issue of using oaths to make an agreement with someone. Basically, He makes the argument that you should not need to use an oath, because your yes should be yes, and your no, no. This means that it should be expected that what you say about something is the truth. And the only way that happens is if you are honest as possible about situations. If you are caught in a lie, then it is going to be hard for that person to trust your word in the future. The passage reads;
33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
I write this more as a healing process for me. I needed to get my thoughts out. I needed to deal with some anger about finding a lie. I have prayed for forgiveness of my anger, and I have forgiven the lie that I found out about. But I also wanted to caution all of us. As Christ followers, our honesty and integrity are paramount. We are going to mess up and sin. That’s unfortunate, but it’s also part of our human nature. As much as we want to get rid of all the sin in our lives, it’s going to catch us from time to time. But lying is something that we should be able to control, and again, without integrity and honesty, our witness to others is going to be damaged. Let your yes be yes, and your no be no.